Ahh, I see that you are a lot closer to the academic world than I originally thought.
I tend to like Meier, although he usually always ends up with a "centrist" take on the issue. However, he does seem to cover most
all of the bases - pro and con - with his comments and bibliographies.
WRT Jesus' purported relations with "tax collectors" etc, there is an interesting relationship with the land tenancy issue. The true
political reality of traditional "family plots" of the time in that region, that everyone likes to talk about as if similar to
modern day concepts of absolute land ownership (with parents splitting inheritances among sons and all) with confidant assertions
that it must have been so because some passage in the Jewish scriptures says so, is not so easily discerned.
Norman C, Habel (_The Land is Mine: Six Biblical Land Ideologies_, Fortress, 1995, 190 pp.), for instance, identifies six distinct
land ideologies in different parts of Jewish scripture. Which were utopian goals never achieved and which were actually practiced,
where and when? A similar problem exists with Rabbinic studies.
My gut feeling is that the rulers of the region over time, from the Persians on, likely took direct control of a good portion of the
local land as royal estates, but seem to permitted the temple to control land which was leased to "families" on terms resembling
those expressed in parts of Jewish scriptures. However, these lands may not have extended beyond the province of Judaea, except
possibly in Hasmonean times and even there I cannot be confident. The local rulers, including Hasmoneans and Herodians, likely
retained control over the royal estates established by their predecessors, passing control (but not absolute ownership as we think
of it) of some on to their retainers.
I believe the "purity" issue raging among critical rabbinists (Neusner, et al) is centering on just how central to everyday life
ritual purity was in regions like Galilee and beyond. It may not have been required of anyone other than those living on temple
land, and the tithes delivered to the priests, etc, substituted as their "rent". Tenant farmers did not pay land taxes (whether to a
king or to the Romans), their landlords did, including some retainers and elites, who raised the money partly through rents. Whether
some (mostly the elites) voluntarily took on the burden to observe the tithes and purity laws "as if" the land they lived on or
controlled was still part of temple land, is the matter that is disputed, as I understand it. Neusner's _Economy of the Mishna_
might have more on this, but it is a pretty slim volume.
Newton Falls, Ohio USA
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 12:28 AM
Subject: Galilean Economics, et
Thanks, David, for all these resource suggestions. Yes, "Birth of Christianity" is the
book that first brought my attention to this issue. I've forgotten the Meier source,
most likely Vol. 2 of "Marginal Jew" or one of the more recent pieces available
through Biblica or elsewhere online -- pl. don't hold me to it.
The Sanders source was most likely personal conversation when he visited the
Yale campus this semester. Right, land tenancy and the general economics of
Galilee are not big issues in the writings of Meier and Sanders that I've read.
Forgive my not having sources at hand to reference, but I have also read
that Herod generally benefitted his subjects.
Speaking of Sanders .... One issue I discussed with Sanders was his take on
Borg's hypotheses re Jesus' ostensible conflicts over purity laws. He thinks
Borg is generally mistaken re the entire subject, that these conflicts are retrojected
from early Christianity. I don't have my texts at hand, but as I recall,
"Jesus and Judaism" puts forward the notion that Jesus' main conflict with
other Jews was his style of becoming friends with tax-collectors,
et al. without first some commitment from them to change their ways.
I raised the issue to Sanders that there still might be a role for purity in
social identity(thus, "us-versus-them" conflict), and he agreed on the
possibility but we didn't get much further on that. Christine Hayes, a
Tanach scholar at Yale suggested there is literature on purity and social
identity but has never shared the info with me.
I'll look back through the list archives for the comments you mentioned by yourself
BTW, just an FYI. I've been able to leisurely read some long sections of Adela
Yabro Collins' new Hermenia commentary on Mark. She reads a lot of Classical
literature for comparision. The whole project struck me as extremely impressive,
though sometimes a bit conservative.
"It is not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy." - Br. David Steindl-Rast
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